Fiction, Indie, Women's

Beside The Music by BJ Knapp A book about when rock... doesn't rock.

Beside The Music

Goodreads average 3.85
★★★★✮  4.5 stars

This has got to be the coolest spot to write a review.

(I’m on a train to another city, to teach a class there.)

And for a cool spot we need a cool topic. And I think I’ve got one. Rock music cool enough?

I got Beside The Music at Story Cartel, one of the reviewer sites. It’s not one of those that ask you to review right away, so I just let it sit for a while. But when I started reading it, I realized I wasn’t going to get away that easily. I stayed up two nights to read it. I mean, I could have at least read it on the Kindle, but instead, I tortured myself in the dark with a phone screen because stopping and changing the reader wasn’t an option. That’s how engrossed I was.

The story goes like this.

Brenda lives an ordinary life with her husband Tim who she’s been married to for a while, works in PR and she’s more or less happy with her life. But… Brenda has several nagging problems:

  1. She’s been married so long she’s not sure Tim is the same person anymore;
  2. Tim frantically checks her protection, because even 7 years in, he’s still terrified of having children;
  3. Both Tim and herself don’t do much of anything anymore, aside from work;
  4. Brenda’s mother-in-law STILL hates her, after all these years. She doesn’t just hate her, she constantly embarrasses her in public, treating her as a rag.

(Naw, just kidding, Brenda’s not really like that pic.)

So far it sounds like most chick lit, right? But somehow… It isn’t. I’ll get to that.

Brenda randomly decides to write a letter to the band she loved as a teen, and things go snowballing from there – until she finds herself hosting be band and a swarm of their roadies in her own home.

As it turns out, having a band of rock’n’roll band on your front lawn 24/7 is not as cool as you’d think. Or on your back yard. On basically in your bedroom.

So Brenda is forced to make some really tough choices – choices that may either make or break her marriage, her career and any sort of normal life she had before all this. And that where this book strays from most chick lit, in my opinion. It isn’t centered on romance or wittiness at all, it’s centered on character growth and real life struggles. This is a sort of… coming of age story. A coming of age in the setting of pre-middle age slash mid-marriage crisis.

I really loved the fact that Brenda is a pretty unreliable narrator. She can’t seem to make up her mind whether she loves her husband, or doesn’t trust him, whether she hates the asshole rockstar or swoons over him. She lacks the backbone to tell anyone how she truly feels – be it the mother-in-law who constantly steps on her pride, or the band (that literally steps over everything she is and has). Brenda thinks that she can fix’ the rockstar – she goes through this self-sacrificing illusion that a lot of women have about men, bad, broken men – that if only she did this much, she could save him! While being completely oblivious to the fact that the person in question might not even require saving, and while not being a total villain, he still is petty, childish, egocentric and, well, kind of an asshole.

In the end, I loved Brenda’s growth tremendously. She had a really natural turn around of character, and she ended up being strong-willed and very likeable (although she was likeable throughout the whole story). I also loved the fact that Brenda was like a two-sided coin – at times she could act like a silly teen, at times – like a wise grown woman. I think it’s true about most of us – that there is a time in every woman’s life when she’s got to give up her childish illusions and face the real world. I especially respect the author for writing a character like that, because I don’t believe it is easy to write someone who acts both childishly and smart at the same time, and pull it off in a natural way – like it still seems it’s the same person.

To sum it up, you’ll love this if:

  • You like real life characters (all characters in the book were very nicely done and realistic)
  • You like strong women and character growth
  • Would like to read about the life band members live
  • … would like to stay up at night reading

So my opinion is, if you don’t read only fantasy or scifi, do give this a go! It’s a great book. And if you’d like to hear more about it – sometime this month I will be posting an interview with the lovely BJ Knapp, author of Beside The Music!

So see you then!

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

14 thoughts on “Beside The Music by BJ Knapp A book about when rock... doesn't rock.

    1. A very unique premise exactly, that’s why I picked it as well 🙂 and I actually haven’t seen that ep of The Simpsons 😀

  1. This books sounds so interesting, definitely need to keep it mind for when I’m stuck on what book to read next. Also who doesn’t want to read a book with a strong female lead that has tons of development and growth throughout the story?! 😛 Lovely review Evelina! 😀

    1. Thank you 🙂 yeah. It was.. simple enough, but strange enough! Not a lot of books are about a band camping out in your yard xD

  2. HECK YES FOR STRONG WOMEN!!!! I love a strong main character, and obviously more when it’s a woman because um, duh. Also, I TOTALLY understand the putting yourself through torment (you with your phone screen, me with my sitting positions) because you can’t move because YOU MUST KEEP READING otherwise the world may explode???
    I agree with you that we all go through fluctuations of blinding ourselves to reality and then truly just accepting it for what it is. I can pretend all day I don’t have bills to pay and I’m carefree and everything is hunky-dory. But then there are times where I have to be what is considered “adult”. (I’m 20, so this term is kind of relative for me lol. Let’s be real, I’m still just a baby).
    This was a really interesting premise, and I’m glad you wrote about it because maybe now, if I can get my TBR down a bit, I can sacrifice my soul to this book 😛 Also, I think this was a cool enough topic for your super cool writing location. Nailed it!

    1. Haha, yes! You know how the phone thing even happened? 😀 I was listening to the book (I have a reading app), BUT THEN it got too intense! I realized the reader is doing it very slowly and if I was reading myself, I would be so much faster!! I actually carried on with the earphones still in my eyes, just turned it off and kept reading myself 😀
      And totally get you. I don’t feel an adult at 28 yet. Not sure it’s ever going to happen 😀 I’m glad you liked this premise! Do visit next week when I interview the author 🙂 in fact, I have received her answers already, but I’ve been so busy I still have no clue what she even said 😀 in fact, responsibilities. MAYBE I SHOULD GO DO THAT NOW.

  3. I love this review– it’s so *you*. Writing a review on a train sounds awesome– did you do it on a computer, or using your phone? I get so blown away by people who write on their phone. Or read on their phone! The screen/text is just so tiny… I personally can’t handle it. Kudos to you. It must have been gripping if you couldn’t transfer to an eReader!

    As you know, character growth is critical to my love of reading. You mention Brenda’s growth, but do you feel like the other characters or their relationships with Brenda grew at all? This book definitely intrigues me. I haven’t seen anything which is a mid-life-crisis-coming-of-age book. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for this one!
    Jackie B. recently posted…Threats of Sky and SeaMy Profile

    1. Hahaha, thank you, Jackie 🙂 this time I actually wrote it on the computer (I love new trains!! They have outlets and wifi and everything!)
      But yeah, I still remember that time I posted from my phone. That was a feat, I don’t know if I’d do it again 😀 but I was always pretty good with my phone. Years and years of long distance relationships >_>
      Yeah, the other characters grew as well. The asshead rockstart totally did (although we didn’t witness it). Her abusing mother in law did a lot too. It’s more just the situations.. I loved the situations.
      Actually, there will be more about character growth in the interview I’m doing in the end of this week 🙂 it’s all done, pretty much just waiting to check back, and I loved the review (both writing the post and what the answers were), so do check back 🙂
      And now time to go visit your blog, cause it seems you’re back! Got the impression that you were veeery busy with work 🙂

  4. Wow, I love how this sounds typical chick lit and ends up being about life itself and growth! This sounds like such a great read! Fab review!

    1. Thank you, Donna 🙂 yeah, I was also worried about that as I started out reading it, but it didn’t turn out to be typical at all 🙂 in the end of this week I’ll be having an author interview for this book, and the answers were quite interesting, so you can visit if you’re curious about the book 🙂

  5. BJ Knapp’s novel pulls you in like a song with an infectious melody and a driving beat. With her great sense of humor and great pacing, Knapp keeps you guessing as she amp up the tension for her main character, Brenda, as she tries to pull off being muse to the rock star of her dreams, stay true to her marriage, and balance her work life as well. A thoughtful and fun read.

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